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Cloud Computing is an Information Technology (IT) paradigm, a model for enabling ubiquitous access to shared pools of configurable resources (such as computer networks, servers, storage, applications and services), which can be rapidly provisioned with minimal management effort, often over the Internet. Cloud computing allows users and enterprises with various computing capabilities to store and process data either in a privately-owned cloud, or on a third-party server located in a data center - thus making data-accessing mechanisms more efficient and reliable. Cloud computing relies on sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economy of scale, similar to a utility.
Advocates note that cloud computing allows companies to avoid or minimize up-front IT infrastructure costs. As well, third-party clouds enable organizations to focus on their core businesses instead of expending resources on computer infrastructure and maintenance. Proponents also claim that cloud computing allows enterprises to get their applications up and running faster, with improved manageability and less maintenance, and that it enables IT teams to more rapidly adjust resources to meet fluctuating and unpredictable business demand. Cloud providers typically use a "pay-as-you-go" model. This could lead to unexpectedly high charges if administrators are not familiarized with cloud-pricing models.
A consumer can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with each service provider.
Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms (e.g., mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and workstations).
The provider's computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand.
Capabilities can be elastically provisioned and released, in some cases automatically, to scale rapidly outward and inward commensurate with demand. To the consumer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear unlimited and can be appropriated in any quantity at any time.
Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service (e.g., storage, processing, bandwidth, and active user accounts). Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported, providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service.